I spent a bit of the holiday explaining the Pleiades project to my family, and how it compares to Wikipedia and Citizendium. Like Citizendium, we aim to expertly moderate openly contributed knowledge. On the other hand, we're not forking the entirety of Wikipedia, but instead are scoping down and building upon an unequaled scholarly work -- the Barrington Atlas. Ben Vershbow, in Scholarpedia: sharpening the wiki for expert results (via Peter Suber), says we're on the right track:
One problem of open source knowledge projects is that they're often too general in scope (Scholarpedia says it all). A federation of specialized encyclopedias, produced by focused communities of scholars both academic and independent -- and with some inter-disciplinary porousness -- would be a more valuable, if less radical, counterpart to Wikipedia, and more likely to succeed than the Citizendium chimera.
Expertise will continue to have value in our wiki future. I'm already convinced that Pleiades has a solid mission, but it's nice to find reinforcements.
I'm pretty sure Raj Singh (whose path I somehow managed to never cross at OSG05), gets this already, but one of the things the OGC needs to understand before it can help to geo-enable the Web is that there's more to ubiquity than just dumbing down specifications to the grade level of the mass market. Systems with simple rules allow the evolution of complex and surprising features. Our teeming, expanding, World Wide Web was made possible by its deliberately simple design.
At the end of his post, Singh asks:
And finally a note about the name, Mass Market. I'm not in love with the name either. Don't hire me to name your next product. But what if we had called it the geoweb working group? Would I be getting flamed like Google did over that new geoweb layer in Earth?
As far as I could tell, the reaction against Google's geographic web layer came entirely from pro-OGC quarters, so I doubt that "OGC GeoWeb Working Group" would have sparked any flames.
Returning from the OGC's Technical Committee meeting, Ed Parsons writes:
... OGC needs to embrace and recognize the needs of the mass market, as I pointed out in my presentation maybe there is now a new requirement for interoperability, above the levels of W*S services at the mapping API level.
Ed's right, although I would eliminate the wishy-washy "mass market" term, cut right to the chase, and rephrase the statement as:
The OGC needs to embrace and recognize the needs of the Web.
W*S protocols have opened minds and hinted at possibilities, but are not engendering a geo-web. Pictures and data flow dutifully through channels, but there is no evolution of linkage, no complex, organic patterns or structures, no sum that is bigger than its parts. There's no web here.
It's time for a new approach. It's time to geo-enable the Web.
Update: Jo has more on the subject. I agree, "Mass Market" is patronizing.
Here's my list of some of the biggest and best of the community, blogosphere, and things tangential in the last 12 months, in no particular order, and with no apologies about the open source bias. I've omitted many worthy persons, events, and developments. Feel free to write about them in comments or on your own blog. You may be surprised at how long it takes you to make even deliberately casual, non-definitive, best-of lists.
My old hometown Jazz routed the Mavericks last night for Jerry Sloan's 1000th win. For now -- and for the first time in my memory -- the Mountain West, led by the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, and Denver Nuggets, is the NBA's dominant geographic region.
I don't see the point in fussing about Google's new geographic web layer. ESRI's Geography Network and the scattered archipelago of W*S servers may have come first, but neither constitute a functioning web. Google's geo web is as legitimate as any other.